Proverbs 27:4

Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming,

    but who can stand before jealousy?

Proverbs 27:4 ESV

This proverb can perplex us because so often we consider jealousy to be bad (or at least not a good thing). Yet, how often would we stand it in opposition to wrath and anger. So often, jealousy is thought of as silly and petulant. At times we think it can be obsessive, but on par with or more significant than wrath or anger? Hardly.

This proverb should be read slowly and diligently, letting the words sink in for greatest impact. Then, a good look in the mirror to evaluate ourselves.

Proverbs 27:3

A stone is heavy, and sand is weighty,

    but a fool’s provocation is heavier than both.

Proverbs 27:3 ESV

My grandpa used to trick us kids by asking, “Which is heavier a 100 pound bag of feathers or a 100 pound bag of rocks?” Our automatic answer was “The rocks are heavier!” We were ticked because even as children we knew that rocks are heavier than feathers. Of course, we didn’t catch the additional information that indicated both weighed 100 pounds. The reason we didn’t catch that is because the image of a rock and feather side-by-side is so overwhelmingly obvious. The rock is heavier. No doubt about it.

Here, the writer uses two images that immediately connect with the reader. Who among us doesn’t know the heaviness of stones or sand? We all get it. What may shock the reader is that the fool’s anger or wrath is heavier than either stones or sand. But this is not something that can be verified on scales. It’s not as if you can ask the fool to put his anger on the scales to see how much it weighs.

The writer uses the metaphor to make the point of the weightiness of the anger of a fool. Let that sink in. Once that is settled, begin to figure out what is folly. Then, avoid that path.

Proverbs 27:2

“Let another praise you, and not your own mouth;

  a stranger, and not your own lips.”

Proverbs 27:2 ESV

While the wording of this verse at first reading appears to be directed toward our mouths (mouth, lips), the underlying matter is one of the heart. The directive here isn’t “think as highly of yourself as you want, just don’t say it” because that goes against the tenor of Proverbs.

I’ve heard others say, “No one knows me like me.” While that may be true, the sinner’s lack of self awareness is sometimes astounding. And, I think that is what is going on in this verse. In other words, the warning is more than just control your mouth. It is really control your heart, and one way of demonstrating a humble heart is allowing others to praise you rather than yourself.

I’ll do that tomorrow …

Do not boast about tomorrow,
    for you do not know what a day may bring.

Proverbs 27:1

Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” The intent of this quip seems to be time management, and not getting behind by delaying what can be done now.

I think the warning of Proverbs 27:1 is something a little different, though. It seems to be aiming less for time management and more for being aware of the twists and turns of life. “Do not boast” suggests a certain measure of assurance, which the following clause – “you do not know what a day may bring” – warns against.

One clear conclusion the reader should come to is that he/she is not nearly as much in control as he or she might assume.

The New Testament has something to say to this point, as well. See James 3:13-16.

“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit” – yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.”

James 3:13-16 ESV

Obviously, some things are more critical than other things; and leaving certain things undone – even forever – will not matter in the big picture. But, critical things should not be left undone or unsaid until later … because later may not come. Some examples of things that shouldn’t be left undone until tomorrow may include, among other things, repenting of sin, complimenting a spouse, encouraging a friend, or sharing the gospel.

Perhaps improving in this area would make a good 2021 goal for all of us.

Proverbs 27:17

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”

Proverbs 27:17 ESV
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